The ruling comes after two women took the government to court, saying Covid patients were discharged from hospitals back to care homes without testing.
Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died, said it caused a “shocking death toll” of residents.
The women said key policies of discharging patients from hospitals into care homes were implemented with no testing and no suitable isolation arrangements in the homes.
The High Court said the policies failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.
The women partially succeeded in claims against the health secretary and Public Health England.
In their ruling, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that, despite there being “growing awareness” of the risk of asymptomatic transmission throughout March 2020, there was no evidence that then Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressed the issue of the risk to care home residents of such transmission.
It’s all too apparent that the reaction of BJ’s Tory government to the onset of the COVID pandemic was tardy, incompetent, corrupt and inadequate, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of UK citizens. AFAIK, this is the second issue on which the government’s action on COVID has been declared unlawful, the other being, of course:
Will anyone be held to account, nope?
Will we get an apology, nope?
This action by the government and the NHS both in England and here in Scotland was at the very least manslaughter on a massive scale.
I am appalled at the Government’s reply that it was not known at the time that there was asymptomatic transmission , many virus infections allow transmission before symptoms appear so the government should have erred on the side of caution and taken appropriate measures like requisitioning small hotels and discharging elderly patients there. They could see by the end of February from other countries how serious C19 was going to be.
It’s quite unbelievable yet it happened and families were not even consulted . Total disregard for our elderly as if they were a nuisance . What happened to those huge hospitals they built why couldn’t the old folk have gone into those for care . Strangely after they were built we heard no more about them . I remember them being full of beds .
I know the virus spread so fast and no one could have been prepared but things should have been done so differently. Those poor helpless people and their families
Couple of things I have noticed since the ruling, actually three things.
1) Not a word from the Labour party I suspect this is because Starmer pretty much let the Tory government do what they wanted during the pandemic given the obvious lack of opposition from him.
2) Not a word from the SNP Government up here in Scotland a government who rarely misses a chance to criticise Westminster and/or blame it for all Scottish ills. But of course the Scottish government followed Westminster when it came dealing with the pandemic even though Sturgeon likes to tell us how she went her own way.
3) The former health minister Hancock blaming everyone else for his inability to use common sense when it came to dumping thousands of elderly and vulnerable people untested in care homes. He surely did not need the scientists to tell him that there was a bloody good chance than many of these people would have had COVID.
It looks like BJ lied again:
Boris Johnson’s claim that a lack of knowledge about the asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 put care homes at risk has been further undermined after it emerged he openly discussed the potential scale of symptom-free transmission.
The prime minister has already been accused of misleading parliament over the claim. He made it last week after the high court ruled that the government had acted unlawfully in ordering the discharge of patients to care homes without testing in the spring of 2020. Johnson told the House of Commons: “What we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically.”
However, the prime minister commented on papers examining the issue at a Covid press conference on 25 March – several weeks before rules were altered to ensure that all patients were tested before they were admitted to a care home.
At the press conference, he asked chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance about reports that many people could have the disease without symptoms. “Patrick, on the numbers of people who have the disease asymptomatically, there was a study I saw quoted from some Oxford academics saying that as many as 50% may have had it asymptomatically,” he said. “How do you evaluate that at this stage?”
Vallance said studies in China and Italy had pointed to asymptomatic cases but the role of those cases at a population-wide level was unknown. He also said that new antibody tests would “be able to work out how many people have had the disease asymptomatically, and that’s going to be important to understand what to do next”. He added: “These tests are crucially important. We need more of them.”
Last week’s high court judgment listed several occasions in early 2020 when the risk of asymptomatic transmission was raised by scientists and ministers. A submission from the government’s own lawyers stated that “there can be no doubt that [the government] understood that it was possible that asymptomatic people could bring the virus into care homes”. A government spokesman responded to the findings by stating the court “recognised this was a very difficult decision at the start of the pandemic, evidence on asymptomatic transmission was uncertain”.
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said that even if there was not proof of asymptomatic transmission, ministers should have erred on the side of caution, as the risks were known. “The Sage government advisory committee had identified the issue of asymptomatic transmissions in early 2020, but if there was any doubt about issues relating to transmission pathways then this should have led to a clear directive that no one should be transferred between any health and care settings without a Covid test.”